Florida's Best Political Television Coverage
- State Formally Apologizes for Atrocities at Dozier School for Boys
- House Bill to Keep Universities Search Process for Top Officials Concealed Passes House
- Whiskey and Wheaties Bill Headed to the Governor’s Desk
- Lawmakers closing in on Budget deal, maybe.
- House makes “Substantial” gaming offer
- One Hundred Liquor Store Owners and Employees Protest Whiskey and Wheaties Bill
- Bills to Combat Drug Overdoses Move to House Vote
- Bill Could Allow Colleges to Begin Researching Hemp for Cultivation
- State Formally Apologizes for Atrocities at Dozier School for Boys April 26, 2017 Jake Stofan
- House Bill to Keep Universities Search Process for Top Officials Concealed Passes House April 26, 2017 Jake Stofan
- Whiskey and Wheaties Bill Headed to the Governor’s Desk April 26, 2017 Jake Stofan
- Lawmakers closing in on Budget deal, maybe. April 26, 2017 Mike Vasilinda
- House makes “Substantial” gaming offer April 26, 2017 Mike Vasilinda
- One Hundred Liquor Store Owners and Employees Protest Whiskey and Wheaties Bill April 25, 2017 Jake Stofan
- Bills to Combat Drug Overdoses Move to House Vote April 25, 2017 Jake Stofan
- Bill Could Allow Colleges to Begin Researching Hemp for Cultivation April 25, 2017 Jake Stofan
- House passes budget meltdown safety valve April 25, 2017 Mike Vasilinda
- Law Enforcment Honors Fallen Hero’s and their Families April 24, 2017 Mike Vasilinda
- Vladimir Horowitz"Perfection itself is imperfection."
- Andy Warhol"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
- Elbert Hubbard"He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much."
- James Thurber"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."
State lawmakers are closing in on the broad outlines of an 83 billion dollar state budget, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, even small details could derail the progress long enough to push lawmakers into overtime.
The Senate gets it’s plan to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The House would get it’s cuts to Visit and Enterprise Florida, The House would also get a 200 million dollar plan for Charter Schools of Hope. In exchange for the Senates gets a boost to University funding. Early Wednesday, Senate Budget Chairman jack Latvala tweeted there was no deal until it was announced by the Senate President. The Majority Leader said discussions were on going.
“I wouldn’t classify anything as having fallen apart” says galvano. “And at this point there is some tweaking going on on what I would call second and third tier issues.”
“It’s down to just a few issues where we’re trying to clarify some language to the satisfaction of both the House and the Senate” Negron told reporters
On the House side, the Speaker was absent from the floor most of the morning. In an exclusive interview he appeared to pour water on the finality of the talks.
“It’s very very difficult. we’re a very conservative body, and its difficult dealing with a body that doesn’t hold our principles and our values” Corcoran told us.
And while lawmakers appear to be shutting down the Governor’s top priorities, he will in fact have the final say.
Under the deal, Visit Florida would be funded at 25 million, a third of this years total. Enterprise Florida would survive, with no money for incentives. Governor Rick Scott issued a statement from his trade mission in Argentina sayings “Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families
Budget negotiators could begin going through a complete analysis of the differences as early as tonight. A budget must be on members desks by next Tuesday for an on time adjournment.
State Lawmakers are closer to a deal on gambling than anytime in the last seven years after the House made what both sides are calling a substantial deal. The House would allow voters in counties with dog tracks to decide if the tracks could stop racing dogs but keep operating card rooms. Grey 2k activist Cary Thiel says the move is a big step forward.
Sot: Carey Theil
“from the animal welfare perspective, we’re starting to have hope that we’ll see finally some change. We’re seeing greyhounds dying in Florida every three days at these facilities. This is the beginning of a blueprint to fix that problem.”
The offer also give the Seminole Tribe more games such as baccarat, but if does not open to slots in the eight counties where voters have approved slots referendums. Naples-Ft. Myers Dog Track owner Isadore Havenick says the deal does’t go far enough.
Sot: Isadore Havenick
Naples – Ft. Myers Dog track
“We had a referendum. We had a referendum in the general election and the residents of Lee County voted, over 63 percent in favor of us being able to offer a new product, and we just hope the legislature listens to the will of the people.”
The offer also included one new permit for gambling in south Florida. The Senate wants two new facilities.
State lawmakers have until a week from today to come up with a final budget in order to avoid costly overtime, and until today, there has been little real discussion about the two billion dollar difference between the House and Senate.
The State House has been promoting its version of the budget ideas with an in-house video guide.
“The House will not raise taxes” chimes the video.
But the problem is that the Senate doesn’t like a lot of the ideas. Like this one:
“We also added twenty five thousand dollars to the homestead exemption.”
With no agreement in sight, Tuesday began with a worst case scenario.
“The one thing we’re not going to do is kick the can down the road” says House Budget Chair Carlos Trujillo
The House Appropriations Committee passed last years budget minus money for members projects.
“Could we get a budget done in the next ten days? Possibly. But if we don’t, if we don’t, this is our safety valve” Trujillo told committee members.
Democrats on the Committee are up in arms. Minority Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa was downright angry.
“We all just need to grow up. we need to sit at a table together and we need to do what the citizens of Florida and the fricking taxpayers have asked us to come here to do” says Cruz.
With Two billion dollars separates the chambers, the Speaker and Senate President finally began meeting face to face. Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano remains optimistic.
“And so there’s continuing offers between the chambers, and we’ll take it from there” says galvano.
A decade ago, Special Sessions cost forty thousand dollars a day. Now there are new estimates from Cruz.
“It is seventy two thousand dollars a day.”
Q:”Is that the new number?”
“That’s my number.”
Q:”Okay, ho’d you come up with that?”
“Ah, we just tried to kinda figure out what lodging costs, what folks per diem is, and what it costs for staff.”
Passing a budget is the legislators only constitutional responsibility…but the constitutions says nothing about doing it on time.
Negotiations are occurring on two levels, total dollar amounts, and spending for policy items like charter schools, tax breaks, education funding and the environment, particularly building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.
Hundreds of police officers from across the state were in the State Capitol today to pay tribute to the officers who were lost last year. And as Mike Vasilinda tells us, pay tribute to those who survived.
Hundreds of officers paraded a half dozen blocks to the Capitol to show respect for their fallen brothers and sisters.
The families of those being remembered filled a hundred seats or more. FDLE Deputy Commission Don Lardner promised the state would remember their fallen hero and those they left behind.
“To the families we also promise to you that we will never forget you. You are out hero. your sacrifice continues day in and day out” Lardner told the audience.
Ten new names were added to the memorial, Seven who dies this year, and three that were previously unknown.
“My son was a special individual and we didn’t know how many lives of pople he that he touched. I’ve had people come up to me, involving cases he’s been involved in three or four years ago, and tell me what a wonderful person he was and how caring he was” the Senior officer told us.
Stephen Oliver was near tears recalling his older brother Eric, a Nassau County Deputy, killed while chasing an illegal immigrant on foot.
A 21 gun salute ended the ceremony.
2 florida officers have already died in the line of duty since the beginning of the year. Both from Orlando.
A showdown over school funding, property taxes, and economic development are just a few of the items keeping lawmakers from agreeing on a new state budget. The legislature has until a week from tomorrow to agree on an 80 billion dollar plus plan or face costly overtime. Today, negotiations collapse after House Speaker Richard Corcoran offered a continuing resolution to spend at least years level. It was quickly rejected by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala.
“Why do we want to model Florida after Washington D.C.? they haven’t had anything anything but a continuation budget in Washington DC in eight or ten years. And we want to copy that? Does the Speaker want to copy Washington D.C. I don’t think the vast number of people I represent have much confidence in Washington D.C.” says Latvala.
A special session of the legislature will cost upwards of 40 thousand dollars a day. But Latvala says there is still a good change the budget will get worked out on time.
A House Committee held a work shop on tougher texting laws today, but took no vote. The legislation has been stalled because of opposition of the incoming Speaker, but that is no solace to Demetrius Branca, who lost his son Anthony to a distracted driver last year.
Sot: Demetrius Branca
“There is always a back door to file legislation and gets things passed. I just don’t know if that’s going to happen. I think there is still too much resistance from Leadership” says the grieving father.
Q: “Next Year, the year after?”
“Next year we’re coming in hard and hot. we’re gonna try everything we can to make
this happen. People are dying everyday and we can’t wait. We can’t wait until next year, but we have to” says Branca.
The legislation Branca and others are seeking would allow police to stop texting offenders without some other offense. Currently enforcement is a secondary offense, and tickets can only be issued when the office stops a motorist for something else,
Saturday is Earth Day and to show their love of the earth, science lovers and advocates will be taking to the streets in more than 500 marches across the country.
A State Senator who made vulgar and racist remarks about other State Senators and the Senate leadership resigned today, a scant 86 hours after losing his temper in a Tallahassee watering hole. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, Frank Artilles would likely have become the first State Senator to be expelled from office in modern times if he had not left on his own.
The resignation letter was delivered to the Senate Presidents office before noon Friday. In it Frank Artilles says “My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process and and the citizens of our great state.”
Artiles had apologized for the Monday night remarks on Wednesday.
“As you can see, my harsh words have reflected more on methane they could ever have on anyone else” Artiles said on the Senate Floor.
The resignation was expected. Wednesdays apology rang hollow for many of Artilles Colleagues. Sen. Perry Thurston filed the complaint seeking Artiles expulsion, and it was moving quickly to conclusion.
“Did someone go to him and say you’ll get thrown out if you don’t resign?”
“Well, I don’t know that but I would think that was the case because several people have come to us in the meantime and saying is there way for a soft landing?” says Thurston.
“Is this a soft landing?”
“I don’t know if this is a soft landing. To end someone’s political career. to have to resign. to have to put your family thought this. It’s unfortunate.”
“All of us are accountable for our actions and comments. So I think it’s an appropriate resolution” said Senator Joe Negron.
It’s now up to the Governor to set a date for a special election.
The resignation was an abrupt turnaround for the brash, defiant, former Marine. On Wednesday he vowed he would stay.
“I’m also going to file for 2018 and win my election. thank You.
A prediction which is now very unlikely to be fulfilled. In his letter Artiles also said “It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need the for personal reflection and growth.